Case Studies in Business, Society, and Ethics (5th Edition)

Case Studies in Business, Society, and Ethics (5th Edition)
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  • ISBN-13: 9780130994356
  • ISBN: 0130994359
  • Edition: 5
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Publisher: Pearson


Tom L. Beauchamp


The thirty-six cases in this volume concern ethical and social issues surrounding business. Fourteen cases are new to this fifth edition. Of the twenty-two cases carried over from the fourth edition, fourteen have been extensively revised, five have been revised in minor respects (to clarify or update information), and three remain unaltered. The general Introduction to the volume has also undergone thorough rewriting, updating, and expansion. This Introduction treats the uses of cases and the case method, rather than the particular cases in this volume. As in previous editions, the objective of this volume is to make students aware of situations that require moral reflection, judgment, and decision, while revealing the complexities that often surround moral choices and the formation of public policies. The book has not been produced to create a platform for moralistic criticism of the behavior of individual persons, corporations, or governmental agencies that play leading roles in the cases. Some cases contain dramatic instances of professional irresponsibility (the Andersen-Enron case being a well-known example), but it should not be inferred that the purpose of the cases is to teach what ought not to be done or that conduct in the profession under discussion generally follows this pattern. Irresponsible actions are occasionally featured because more is to be learned, in the circumstance, from wrongful than from rightful behavior. However, learning through the study of wrongful or negligent behavior is not the primary orientation of this volume. The focus is generally on circumstances in which hard choices must be made under complex conditions of uncertainty or disagreement. More is to be learned from reasoning under circumstances of controversy, personal quandary, and incompleteness of information than from paradigmatic cases of irresponsibility. The length and structure of the cases also deserve comment. Many cases that now circulate in the general literature of business, society, and ethics either are too short to contain enough detail for discussion or contain such a vast body of data that discussion is retarded by the particulars and their connections. Most of us encounter severe limitations on the amount of information we can study and remember about any sequence of events; and too much information often makes it difficult to find the essence of the problem. Accordingly, most cases in this book conform to the model of tidy cases that come to the essence of the matter without a massive body of descriptions and data. Experienced executives and experienced teachers will rightly insist that the situations under which decisions are made in business are multifarious, perplexing, and short on relevant information. Executives see real-life cases as too intricate for short summary presentation. This point of view has its merits. Every student should appreciate that historical sequences of events are almost never fully captured by the facts mentioned in the write-up of the case. This is so even when cases are described at book length. Many teachers of the subject matter found in this book prefer cases that take an inside view of a corporation or an institution under investigation in the case. They want to examine the decisions that managers must make and the strategies that they follow on the firing line. I endorse this form of pedagogy, and several cases in this book are so oriented. However, this approach incorporates only one profitable style of case study. An outside look at corporate activities is sometimes the only perspective obtainable. Moreover, it can be the best approach to cases that involve public policy. A variety of approaches to case writing is therefore used in this book, some taking the inside look, some employing the outside perspective, and some using a mixture of perspectives. Some teachers and students like to see questions at the end of each case, in the belief that tTom L. Beauchamp is the author of 'Case Studies in Business, Society, and Ethics (5th Edition)', published 2003 under ISBN 9780130994356 and ISBN 0130994359.

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